Have yourself a merry knitted Christmas ….

This week has gone so fast! I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. In one respect I can’t wait for all of ‘this’ to be over so the faster time goes the better, and the nearer to retirement I get πŸ™‚ However, I do like to feel that I am making good use of time, but it is just whizzing past me.

This week’s crafting has partly been about preparing a new camper van embroidery and a lovely new applique needlebook for me. More on that in a future post as they are just at the stage of being stuck to the background with no stitching yet.

I have been experimenting with knitted ornaments as I decided that I would like to do knitted ones for this year’s collection for family. I was doing a bit of research and came across some wreaths and thought that I could maybe adapt Julie’s free doughnut pattern so I had a little play.

Knitting it on size 3.75 mm needles made a bigger doughnut but it was not big enough, so I eventually cast on 39 stitches rather than the 26 in the pattern. This is such a fast and easy knit, you do not have to concentrate too hard so it is great for doing while watching tv. I have now made 5 doughnuts in total I am getting quite confident with it.

To decorate I am using up my stash of little charms. I have so many varied ones that I have collected over the years and they look very cute on the wreath.

I only have about half a ball of this lovely variegated yarn left so will use that up for possibly another 4 of these. The good thing is that the charms can be varied as I only have one or two left of most of these now and I am trying to be good and not buy any new stash πŸ™‚

The Little Cotton Rabbits crafting community continue to delight with their Christmas themed knitting. These gorgeous creations have all been posted recently. This reindeer is by Christine Collins and I love the background and the accessories, that gingerbread doll is so cute!

This cute rabbit in a Christmas dress is by Lindsay Munro, I really love all the variations that you can make to the basic dress patterns.

I have knitted the free stocking pattern before but never in miniature like the one from Sarah Bellis below. And the bear has a hat, candy cane and Christmas slippers! I think this might be one of my all time favourite makes.

Although these three come a very close second, this little family by Sharon Pagdin have got the most detailed set of Christmas clothes. I really love the green holly themed textured dress.

I will not get time before Christmas but I think I will have to knit a reindeer over the holidays. I have a little red jumper with a snowflake on that I knitted a long time ago and I think that would look brilliant with some green trousers.

I am going to take three weeks leave at Christmas, my employer has given us extra time off to say thank you for all the extra work we have done this term so I have two weeks from them. I am still hoping that restrictions are lifted so I can visit Mum in Spain but we shall see, it is all very complicated so I probably won’t know until last minute. Either way there will be lots of knitting taking place.

I hope that you have had a good week and things are going ok. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Reasons to be cheerful, Parts 1,2 and 3

I remember Ian Dury and the Blockheads very well, the song, ‘Reasons to be cheerful part 3’, was one of my favourites as a teenager. Given the recent announcement about further restrictions things are looking a little less than cheerful here in the UK. However I have had a good week teaching both online and on campus. I am nice and cosy staring at the foggy day outside, and there are lots of lovely things to be thankful for.

The first one is that I have just knitted a doughnut! Well I have actually knitted two but this one is the first to be fully finished with all its little beads. This is to go with the little mouse below. These are so quick and easy to make and from a free pattern from Julie’s Ravelry page, which is linked below.

I know I have said this before but I am so happy to be able to create, it soothes me, makes me feel in control when things seem to be going crazy and makes me so happy.

Who could not be happy seeing the completed little mouse here. This is many relaxing hours of work and I love her.

She is going to a friend’s grand daughter so I hope that she will be happy with it too. Her name at the moment is Mia but I am sure that she will get a new name when she arrives in her new home.

The t-shirt dress is a supplement to the top down jumper pattern and this is the second time that I have knitted this top. It is a really easy pattern to follow and makes much neater sleeves so I am now using it as the top of a little animal dress that I am knitting as well.

The rucksack comes from another of Julie’s patterns with lots of bags and I am looking forward to making more of the different versions.

The second reason to be cheerful is community. I am so thankful for all of the different communities that I belong to, both real and virtual. I love being able to stay in contact with people and to be inspired by them and their creations. Every day of the past few months my spirits have been lifted by looking at a blog post, or watching one of my travel vloggers.

One of the communities that I absolutely love, which fills with me with such joy, is the Little Cottons Rabbits one on Facebook. Ironically Julie, the wonderful creator of all the patterns and the group, was one of the very first blogs I ever started reading. She has brought such joy to everyone through her patterns and her new community. There are over 3,000 members now worldwide and it is one of the best bits of my day seeing what others have made.

Julie has recently released a removable shoes pattern and I have bought that and the boy ram this month. Pictures are from Julie’s Ravelry site.

There are some wonderful examples of these shoes on the group and I have been very inspired, especially the little lacy ones. This gorgeous colourway is by Lene Holla, those grey socks are just so cute!

I have also been getting lots of ideas for colour schemes and embellishments. This beautiful elephant with a matching cardi is by Adele Gomes.

I do just happen to have some little roses in my stash as well as some mini bows. I am not sure that I could knit very tiny ones like these on the very beautifully neat creations from Sarah Bellis.

I have also been amazed by the creativity in the community with people adapting the pattern and making the most amazing themed animals. This little cat in traditional costume is by Claudia Sadun. I love the knitted apron with its detailed trellis design.

I have not knitted a deer yet but there are so many beautiful ones being made as Christmas presents and I adore this one, this is by Marie Fowles and she looks so cosy in her fluffy scarf.

The most creative ones I have seen so far are these lovely little mice themed around The Nutcracker. These are from Annette Belway.

The joy that these bring as gifts is fantastic and there are lots of posts about toys going to friends and relatives and the wonderful reactions that they get.

The third reason to be cheerful is hope. At the start of restrictions in March I was concerned about family, when I would see them again, and how they would cope. I have luckily been able to see most of them, and have really appreciated that time. I have especially valued when it has been where we have been able to go away and spend time doing exciting and amazing things.

I have just completed another little camper van embroidery and have another on the go. This is a free pattern from Flamingo Toes and she has lots more hoop art patterns here. Doing these gives me hope that one day they will hang in my little camper van as we go off on our adventures together.

My plans for the rest of today are to do some Christmas ornament making. I have a couple of quieter weeks coming up so want to get most things done by the end of November, rather than in a rush in December as usually happens.

I was able to go and visit my local haberdashers on Wednesday, just before they had to shut again for a while. I needed more wool for the next few projects so while I am still going into work I took advantage of being able to stock up. You never know when plans will have to change these days so a good supply of everything is essential πŸ˜‰

My lovely sister took me to the supermarket on the way back from our recent trip so I have enough lovely food and wine so just need to ensure that the crafting stocks are in top condition as well.

I hope that you are all coping and finding your own reasons to be cheerful, even though things may be a bit gloomy at the moment, as the saying goes, ‘this too shall pass’. Take care, stay safe and thanks to you all for visiting and being part of my community.

Autumnal glory

Jacky and I did manage to get away for a couple of nights in the gorgeous Peak District. All of this loveliness is only an hour from my house, in fact I live 10 minutes from the start of the area, and the drives there and back were beautiful as well.

It was quite damp but that did not deter us from visiting several reservoirs for a walk in the woods at Langsett and a walk around part of Ladybower.

The trees were amazing and there were such lovely variations in colour at Ladybower.

We saw the spectacular feat of engineering that is the sinkhole, and actually saw one in operation on one of the local reservoirs on the way back.

We also found some little waterfalls which was good as Jacky loves these. We visited some very large ones on our trip to Aysgarth but these were just little ones by the side of the track.

We were only able to stay for a couple of nights due to my self-isolation up until Thursday but it was brilliant to be able to get away and catch up and relax. We stayed at Hardhurst Farm, where we have camped for previous re-enactment events at Peveril Castle. It is a lovely site, right in the centre of the Hope Valley and we really recommend it.

It is a gorgeous area with so much to see and do. Our last visit was to Mam Tor and when we go back again we want to do this walk stretching out onto to the other hills. The views were amazing even in the mist and cloud.

Now it is back to just one more day of leave before teaching starts again and who knows what the new half term will hold. I think there will be much being in the house but at least I am lucky enough to be stocked up with wine, lovely food and lots of wool. I have also just treated myself to two new patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits so will not be bored.

I will be back soon with an update on the knitting. Hope everything is ok with you all, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

New sources of inspiration … as if I need any new projects :-)

I am on leave at the moment which is wonderful. I am also self-isolating since we have had a couple of positive cases at work. That is not quite so wonderful but does mean I have an excuse not to go out at the moment. The weather has been variable anyway so I am very content to stay in and knit and sew. Fingers crossed I will be released back into the wild later this week and hopefully will be taking a little trip away with my sister.

The self – isolation, of not just myself but colleagues does mean that more of our teaching is moving online from next week. We have tried really hard to keep things going on campus but sadly it has got to the stage that this is not possible for some of the classes. On the bright side that means less travelling to work, which saves time and money so I have decided to use that to invest in some more small businesses that I have found via Instagram.

These were suggested to me and as you will see, they could not be more perfect for me. I have made many similar projects over the years, mainly for sale at Yarndale and love working with these shapes and fabrics.

I am not sure when I will start these projects, they may have to be retirement projects as I am still in the middle of all of the knitted animals. However they will not go off and I will be really looking forward to doing them.

They are both creators that use English Paper Piecing, I love working with hexagons, as you know if you have been reading this blog for a while, but look at all of this gorgeousness from Elise and Emilie. The pictures are all from their Pinterest page here.

They have various different versions of EPP flowers, the Starflower which is the top picture, Mayflower in the middle and Dillyflower which is the third one. Don’t you just love that bottom picture with all the colour and joy πŸ™‚ Just the thing to brighten a wet Autumn day.

They are all utterly gorgeous and would make fabulous little gifts when used on needlecases or pincushions. I think the Dillyflowers would make an amazing quilt. The company are based in the USA but supply digital downloads through their Etsy site.

The other one is called Vintage Sewing Box and it was this gorgeous Hexagon Sewing Box that I fell in love with, again available as a digital download from her shop. Pictures from her website.

I really love this Hexagon Sewing Case as well and that is going to be my next purchase.

She has so many wonderful creations on her blog which I am going to spend lots more time reading, and lots of free tutorials here, including these gorgeous little needlecases. She also has a Youtube channel with lots of very helpful tutorials.

They are all definitely people who are my kindred spirits, look at all that gorgeous Liberty fabric! Absolute heaven and I am very happy to be able to support some more small businesses.

I hope that you are having a good week, I had forgotten just how tiring the start of term is, so it is amazing to have a bit of a relax and still be in my pjs at 11am in the morning. I hope that you have a good time ahead, with lots of relaxation planned as well.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Sea, sky and spectacular textiles

We had an amazing time at Bambrugh, the weather was fantastic and the location wonderful with so many stunning views.

My friend Jo, who I have known since Polytechnic in the 1980s, is lucky enough to actually live here. Her partner is a member of the castle staff and they live in the gatehouse. Her photos of the beach during lockdown where she took daily walks were one of the reasons I wanted to revisit the area.

We also met one of the people we know from re-enactment, Dave the moneyer, he has been there all summer with his Viking set up. It was lovely to see him, chat about events and know that at least he has had a good season.

After visiting the castle we had a picnic on the beach and a walk (and paddle) along to the end where there was a wonderful maze like path back through the overgrowth to the other side of the castle.

When we return next year we shall visit some of the beaches further down which give the opportunity for more of these stunning views. Since we returned I have had many photo prompts from the castle Facebook page and these are just some of the amazing photos taken in the area. The final photo is by Jamie Dobson, I don’t have any information on the others.

Inside the Great Hall of the castle was a patchwork hanging that was really fascinating. It consisted of applique as well as a large area of patchwork made of diamonds. The hanging itself was around ten feet high and looked like an immensely time consuming piece of work. Although there was no label with the piece that I could see further research came up with the fact that it was made by Russian prisoners during the Crimean War. I should have guessed that it was a military uniform piece as I have seen similar in quilt exhibitions before.

I would love to know more about the piece, how many people were involved, how long did it take? Who designed the piece and where did they get the inspiration from? I would assume that this was a pattern and techniques they were familiar with from home. That is both the joy and the frustration of seeing such pieces in historic locations. I always want to know more about the people behind the work and little is recorded.

While I was doing the searching for more information I came across this amazing piece of embroidery from a textile artist called Rachel Wright. Photo from Pinterest. 

This was a commissioned piece and you can see more of her work on her Instagram page. She also has some items for sale on her Redbubble site and I particularly love this bag, might just have to treat myself!

We ended the day with another campfire, a game or two of cards, and another amazing sunset. Such simple pleasures but we were so grateful to be able to be there after all the restrictions this year.

We are lucky to live in such a beautiful country. I always travel in the UK a lot but the one advantage (there are so few!) of the current situation is that other people may have had the chance to appreciate our countryside more this year. 

I am hoping that in a couple of weeks I may be able to do some local travel as I have some time off coming up. I have a very large amount of holiday this academic year due to working nearly every Saturday and so having a day off in lieu each week that I need to use. I still have leave carried over from earlier in the summer that I could not use. We have an excellent bus service here so may do some more local exploring. 

Meanwhile there are knitted animals to finish, the mouse is almost done and is looking very cute so far, my first pair of stripey stockings and I love them!

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Living our best Downton life

Ellen has been re – watching Downton Abbey during lockdown and I watched a few episodes when I was staying with her so we were really pleased to find out that some of the series had been filmed at both Beamish and Alnwick Castle. It was nice to wander round pretending that we were dressed the part and we both thought it would make a fabulous Steampunk event location.

The 1900s town at Beamish was amazing, it just looks so much like a real street, although it is made of elements from lots of different places. There are so many buildings such as the bakers, chemist, bank, garage Masononic hall, sweetshop and a lovely little town park as well as a row of houses. With the bus coming through and a little train station you can see why it is the perfect filming location for period dramas.

I think my favourite was the Co-op, one side was all groceries and the other the haberdashery. A whole shop full of vintage textiles – absolute heaven πŸ™‚ I would love to have the time to be a volunteer there and work behind the counter, just look at all this wonderful stuff!

You can just see the quilt wadding and many lovely textiles for dressmaking as well as so many sewing notions. I really loved it.

After a stop in the town park for a rest we got on the bus and went to the mining village which was equally wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and hopefully we will be able to go inside the houses, there were so many amazing textiles, such as this beautiful crazy quilt and a really unusual embroidered waistcoat.

Our visit to Alnwick was on a very grey day so my pictures do not do justice to the beautiful setting.

We were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the State Rooms and although no photos were allowed I found these on Google. The ceilings were amazing and this red and gold room was my favourite.

There was also a really good film about the shooting of the Downton Abbey Christmas special there and it was fabulous to see the actual rooms after watching that. I found some lovely pictures of the cast at the castle as well on Google.

Things are very busy at work, so there has been little crafting done. I am still putting together knitted animals and have finished another camper van embroidery so will share that with you soon. I am still teaching on campus so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for that to continue. It still seems very strange and everything is a bit tense as we are constantly expecting things to change. Thank goodness for the comfort of wool and thread to keep me sane πŸ™‚

I hope that you are all ok and not too stressed, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Back in time, or not…

Our first visit on our Northumbrian trip was to Beamish. To say we enjoyed it would be an understatement. For two heritage enthusiasts, with a particular love for social history it was an amazing day out, and we can’t wait to go back.

Things were obviously a little restricted, the trams were not running, but the buses were and we had a trip on this gorgeous vehicle.

Some of the rooms were closed off, as were some of the smaller properties and there were less interpretive staff working but that just gives us all the more incentive to return next year. We loved the vintage style mask signs.

Our tickets are valid for a year and it is such a large place we didn’t manage all of it in one day anyway. I have split the photos into two posts as I took so many.

Our first location was the 1820s hall which had a beautiful formal garden. I think it is one of the original buildings at the location, many others have been relocated or are being built as replicas. It was a really hot and sunny day so we got to see the place in the sunshine which was wonderful.

The second location was one of my favourites, a 1950s miners’ welfare hall. It was complete with all of the things that you would expect, and some that were very unexpected and really interesting. I think it was one of my favourites due to all of the textiles, and the lovely interpreter we chatted to.

I had spotted the knitted version of Muffin the Mule as we went up to the table. I remember my Grandad had a metal version of this puppet and I watched some of the episodes when I was younger.

We were also fascinated by the knitted baby in the womb which was used by midwives in the 1950s to explain birth, and particularly which way the baby was lying. I do remember having a knitted womb at my antenatal classes 30 years ago which the midwives used to explain the birth process.

As well as the wonderful textiles with crochet, embroidered tablecloths and hexagon patchwork there were lots of information signs not too dissimilar from those we are seeing today.

Diptheria was the issue then, with posters warning of the dangers of coughing and the need to vaccinate against the disease. Very relevant to the situation today and a reminder of how public health is vital despite the differences in society now. We also loved this poster stressing the importance of taking holidays to keep you healthy for work, we couldn’t agree more!

The attention to detail in the building was brilliant, they had even asked the Formica company to make them some of a 1950s pattern for their tables and had the advert outside the building. I am sure I remember this from my childhood.

The 1950s area is one that is being expanded so I am really looking forward to seeing more of it on our next visit.

We have had the first week of term, met the new Year 1s and are keeping everything crossed for teaching being able to be on campus still. It was very difficult getting to know a group of students all sat in rows with masks but we did at least have a Zoom tutorial later in the week so we could see their faces.

It was upsetting for all of us as normally this week would be full of fun and creative things that we were doing with them. However, we are adapting. I always used to say to my teacher trainees that the key to being successful is to be flexible and adaptable and that will be even more important this year.

We are under enhanced restrictions in my area again but the sun is shining so I have been able to go for walks at least. I have finally finished the very difficult jigsaw and am on with a new one. I am so thankful again for my lovely home, and secure job as we enter another period of uncertainty.

I hope that you are all ok and coping with everything. I am also so grateful for my crafting as it gives such respite from all of the anxious bits of life. I am working on a new camper van embroidery alongside the knitting and enjoying some new series on Netflix, one set in space, Away, which has been excellent. However scary life is the the moment at least I am not trying to get to Mars πŸ˜‰

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

In love with anything tiny

I don’t know what it is about my brain but I am officially addicted to anything small. Be it patchwork, knitting, cross stitch or dressmaking, everything is better when it is tiny.

Over the years I have made so many little knitted animals, with equally small clothes, tiny patchwork hexagons, cross stitch ornaments that I need a magnifier to sew, and dresses for Barbie where most of the pieces are no bigger than my hand.

Although I have made larger things there is something wonderful about the teeny tinyness of it all. Maybe it is the sense of completion, it does not take months to do something. Maybe it is to do with my desire to swap projects on a regular basis.

The same passion for tiny has now been confirmed by our trip away in my first tiny accommodation. I have been following lots of vlogs for years about tiny house living and was really excited to see what staying in the shepherd’s hut would be like. I know it was only for a couple of days but I could honestly imagine myself living in something like that full time. It was wonderful!

These pictures are from the Air bnb listing as it looked a lot more cluttered once we had arrived. As we were staying for just 2 nights we didn’t unpack. If I was living in something that small full time I would need a little more storage (for fabric of course πŸ™‚ ) , but I loved being in a space that was probably not even as big as my kitchen.

I have the sense all the time now that this house is too big, it is too full of ‘stuff’, even though it is only a small 3 bed terrace and I can’t wait to properly declutter and downsize in my move to Spain.

The outside space was so lovely as well, these are pictures that I took on the first evening we were there.

It was a perfect view, overlooking the field which was being ploughed the next morning and with a view of the sea and some amazing sunsets.

The firepit was very much appreciated, it is the first time we have sat around a fire this year and I have so missed it. It truly was an idyllic place to stay and would thoroughly recommend it.

Since we got back I have been compiling a list of all my other favourite little Air bnbs to visit, I have about 20 so far. I may not get to all of them but I can dream! We have booked a wonderful cabin overlooking the beach for next May, in Northumberland again as we had such a good time and want to explore the area more.

I will post more about the rest of the trip soon, it was better than we had hoped as the weather was really good and we were able to visit lots of lovely places.

Meanwhile it is back to work with our new first years starting on Monday. We are very uncertain as to what will happen as we are under further restrictions in our area as of next week but we will keep our fingers crossed that we can carry on teaching on campus.

I hope that things are not too difficult where you are, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Very cute knitting!

I have not had much time to craft in the last couple of weeks as term has started and I have been teaching, socially distanced, in classrooms that look like a GCSE exam room, and from behind a visor. A bit strange but it is lovely to be back in the classroom πŸ™‚

I have made some progress over the last couple of months on knitting clothes for the Little Cotton Rabbits animals and spent some time this week blocking them. They are so cute and I am loving the designs.

Julie has worked really hard on all sorts of new patterns and additions to existing patterns so we now have so many options for gorgeous wardrobes for our creations.

I have now knitted three pairs of dungarees, the earlier blue ones for Egbert the elephant, who has gone to his new home now with my friend from work’s grandson. The green ones will be for a little mouse and the navy ones for another friend’s grandchild. I just love the cute little pockets!

These are my first pair of rompers, adapted from Julie’s pattern to have more of a frill on the bottom. These will be paired with a little cardigan and I am also in the middle of a very cute backpack for this set.

One of the other new patterns I have bought has been for some textured dresses and I have just finished my first one, again with the sundress option for the top. I will make a cardigan to go with this as well.

I was very excited last week as I went in to town for the first time in 6 months and my local habdashery shop has survived the lockdown. I am so pleased for them, and for me so celebrated by buying some more gorgeous wool for future outfits.

I am also very excited today as tomorrow we are going to Nothumberland for a few days. We have booked a very cute shepherds’ hut and Ellen and I will be visiting lots of castles and Beamish open air museum. All places we have not been before so I am really looking forward to that.

This picture is from the Air BnB listing, how cute is this! We are planning to stay in lots more cute places over the next few years as we both love tiny houses and want to try lots out.

I will be back at the end of the week as I am teaching on Saturday again and next Monday the full-time students start with us. Fingers crossed that we can stay teaching on campus, such uncertain times for all of us but I do hope that they enjoy their time with us. I really feel for them after all that they have been through this year and although I will not be teaching any of the Year 1s this year I am looking forward to spending time settling them in.

I hope that you have a good week ahead, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

What the well-dressed Steampunks are wearing this season

The Kelham event showed just how wonderfully creative Steampunks are when it comes to their masks as well as their costumes, and there were some beautiful and very unusual masks on display. Even though we did not have to wear them all the time, just in the toilets, bar and at stalls, most people kept them on all day.

I wore mine all the time, hopefully this is the only time I will have to wear it but was very pleased how well it went with the outfit and I even got featured on the event Facebook page for having a lovely mask which was very nice πŸ™‚

As usual there were some stunning outfits, lots of bright colours and detailed work having gone into all of them.

I particularly loved this sea themed outfit, Ellen and I are going for this type of theme for next year at Whitby.

It was nice to meet up with people from previous events, these in the above pictures are the people we met at Whitby Abbey.

We also met this lovely lady again,we first met her at Clumber during the WW2 event and then at Lincoln. She had a gorgeous bee hat and sunflower bustle.

I was very pleased with how my whole outfit came together, I wore the same purple skirt and top as at previous events .

I was also very pleased to find this fabulous little purple handbag the day before when we were charity shop browsing in Retford. How cute is this!

Ellen had a wonderful ringmaster outfit, she used the jacket she made for Steampunks in Space a couple of years ago, and a skirt adapted from a charity shop find.

The hat decoration was part of the same set of tunic fabric that I used from Bombay Stores.

This is one of my favourite pictures of her, even with the mask you can see her smiling!

James and Kerry looked equally lovely, James had a new waistcoat for the event, with matching mask. His Mum made these and the waistcoat is stunning, such beautiful work.

The hall itself is amazing, we are hoping to go to other events there. We didn’t get chance to go inside but had a lovely picnic just outside, using the new basket.

A wonderful chance to have fun and here’s to many more normal weekends in the future.

I hope that you have enjoyed the costumes, I will be back later in the week with an update on the knitting progress. Meanwhile, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.